Friday, October 19, 2012

Guest Post: Leonard Pitt on Mel Blanc

[post 294]

I am honored to have Leonard Pitt contribute his voice to this blog. Leonard Pitt is a world-renown performer and teacher, not to mention being the author of several books on historical Paris. Please allow me to quote from his bio at length: "Leonard Pitt was born in Detroit in 1941. He attended The Art Center School in Los Angeles and at age twenty got a lucrative job in an advertising agency as a graphic designer. Staring into a creative dead end he quit his job and traveled to Europe. He landed in Paris in 1963 and took a few mime classes with Etienne Decroux. After a few days he was hooked. He spent four years with Decroux and seven years in Paris. He returned to the United States in 1970 and settled in Berkeley, California where he opened a school of physical theatre, attracting students from around the world. Leonard's one-man shows have received critical acclaim. He has performed and taught at theatres and festivals throughout the United States, in Europe, Brazil, New Zealand, and Australia. In 1973 he attended a concert of Balinese dance and music. Turning to his friend before the curtain went up, he whispered, "If this is boring, let's leave in the middle." Stunned by what he saw, he closed his school and traveled to Bali to study mask theatre. While there he performed with the Balinese in their village and temple festivals. He returned to Bali in 1978 to study mask carving. In 1986 he co-founded Life On The Water, a contemporary theatre in San Francisco presenting new work. In 1991, Leonard created Eco-Rap, an environmental education program combining ecology and rap music as a way to educate inner city youth about urgent social issues. Leonard has written three books on Paris. From 2009–2011, he and James Donlon operated The Flying Actor Studio in San Francisco, offering a one-year program in the art of physical theatre. Leonard lives in Berkeley, California.

Visit his web site here.


Mel Blanc is the national treasure we never knew we had.

This stunning documentary about the voice of Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Woody the Woodpecker and hundreds of others is a must for any physical performer. A film this good is our equivalent of going to church.

If you've never heard of him, lucky you! You're in for a gooood time. What he does with his voice we have to know how to do with our body and our voice.

Go to 28 minutes and watch him and others talk about his process of creating and acting the voices and characters he played for years. He was the consummate actor.

The story of his near-death auto accident in 1961 and how Bugs Bunny brought him out of his coma is a tear jerker. If it doesn't bring a tear to your eye you should not be on stage. He knew what fun was and knew how to communicate it. He never got trapped in overthinking things, in trying to be cool, trying to impress, to shock. He played the character, he played the situation and did it with consummate artistry.

Clearly Mel never had to discover his inner child. He never lost it.

And on top of everything, from all reports, he was a very nice man.

Every physical performer must genuflect daily to the gods of youtube for the treasures it continues to provide.

Update (2-6-13):  Just discovered this Radio Lab podcast on Mel Blanc.


Tanya Solomon said...

Haven't watched the whole thing, but wanted to interject that as wonderful as Blanc's voice creations were, he did not create the characters. Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, and others originated the characters, and a team of artists including Blanc developed them.

jimmoore said...

Wonderful portrait of a great artist!

Villas of Sanur said...
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